Dust and ashes are my friends,
The tools of repentance and rest.
They help me turn away from
the distractions and put down
The needful things.
All those anxieties,
Those plans, and dreams.
They are the tools I might use as I sneak away
With the One who calls my name.
I go with Him to encounter Love
In the hope that I might be changed
Dust and ashes are my friends,
The tools of repentence and rest.
Hooray for pancake day! Yesterday I wrote a few thoughts about approaching Lent. Here are a few links that might inpsire you with ideas for how to journey with Jesus over the next 40 days.
24-7 prayer spaces. 24-7 prayer are a great group of people into prayer, justice and mission. Over lent they are reading through John’s gospel and have a 5 min video to help you pray with them each day. Here is a trailer.
Count your Blessings. Christian Aid are encouraging us to be thankful for our blessings and to give a little bit of money each day to those who don’t have the same good things. There is a app to help you follow this through the season.
Finally, I loved Malcom Guite’s poem about the ancient tradition of ashing.
Any other good resources or posts out there?
I’m the kind of person that loves seasons. Partly I think its because I just like change, so I get excited at the first frost, or the nights drawing in, or the mornings starting earlier, or wearing jumpers, or shorts. I like that its not all the same.
But I think I also like them because I’m built for rhythm, to come back to doing the same thing at the same time, to enjoy cycles. These rhythms puncture the relentlessness of life. They remind me that its not all about achieving my, or someone else’s 5 year goals.
And so I love the season of lent, which starts this Wednesday, It’s 40 days provide a time to do some things again, to rest a bit more with God. To allow him to point out things in me he might want to change.
It’s a time that has lots of links to traditional stories. It’s 40 days, like Jesus’ time in the desert, like Israels’ years in the wilderness. Both times associated with temptation and testing. It also points to Jesus journey to Jerusalem and prepares us to celebrate Easter. It’s often seen as a solemn time, give something up, repent, fast. That is of course all true.
But here it also coincides with the first few weeks of spring. So for me Lent is also about the early signs of new life; shoots coming up from the ground, occassional days of sun and a little warmth. This speaks of the other side of lent, of getting ready and making space for God’s warmth, love and spring in our lives.
Most years I look for a habit or desire that has become a little too important or time consuming and give it up; its a way of practicing not been shaped by my needs and attractions. This year I’m going to try and cut out all those little phone and iPad games that I waste so much time on!
I also ask God to show me something I can take up - something that He and I can do together to get to now each other better. This year I have a book of poems selected for lent (a brilliant birthday present) and I’m going to try and read one each day. I’m also going to try and blog a bit more.
Tomorrow you may well have some pancakes. Starting Wednesday you might be planning to give something up. I want to encourage you to go a little bit further than that. Here are a few questions:
How might you be able to make some space for God over the next 40ish days?
Are there any habits or things you consume that you could fast from (give up) until Easter?
Is there an area of your life that you think you could do a little work on for this season?
Is there something you could take up, or that you already do that you and God could enjoy together?
Have a happy lent!